Low sojourn of migratory birds in Punjab’s Harike wetland this year
The arrival of migratory birds at the Harike wetland has dipped around 14% this year as compared to count of 2021.
The arrival of migratory birds at the Harike wetland has dipped around 14% this year as compared to count of 2021. In 2022, the census of birds was not conducted due to the third wave of the Covid-19.
This year’s count of birds is the lowest in the last eight years at Harike, also known as Hari-ke-Pattan, which is the country’s second largest wetland.
In 2021, the count of birds was recorded at 74,869. Similarly, in 2020, the count of migratory birds at the wetland was 91,025; 1.23 lakh in 2019; 95,000 in 2018; 93,000 in 2017 and 1.06 lakh in 2016.
According to the bird census that Punjab forest department conducted in coordination with 25 participants from institutions such as World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Bird Clubs of Chandigarh, Jalandhar and Faridkot, and students from the Wildlife Institute of India, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Punjabi University, Patiala, and members from the Avian habitat and Wetland Society, 85 species were recorded this year. However, the variety of species was 91 in 2021 and 94 in 2020.
Gitanjali Kanwar, coordinator, aquatic biodiversity, WWF India, said, “We have yet to ascertain the reason behind the dip. It may be due to the global dip in the arrival of migratory birds. The reason can be ascertained after March.”
Every year, lakhs of winged guests from Siberia, Russia, Kazakhstan and other low temperature regions start arriving at the bird sanctuary from mid-October up to December as lakes get frozen in their native regions. They stay here till March.
Disclosing about the highest numbers in bird varieties arrived at Harike this year, Gitanjali said, “We have recorded 34523 Eurasian Coots this year. This is the highest arrival of any bird category. Similarly, 8381 Greylag Goose, 7432 Gadwall, 2262 common Pochard and 1807 Northern Shoveller have also arrived. Other varieties of birds were recorded in less numbers.”
“Ruddy shelduck, Marsh Harrier and India Spotted Eagle have also arrived in Harike. Resident birds of Harike, including large and little Cormorant, great, intermediate and little Egrets, grey, purple, pond and black crowned Night Heron, flocks of Spotbilled Ducks, can were also spotted,” she added.
The wetland and the lake were formed by constructing the headworks at the confluence of Beas and Sutlej rivers, in 1953. Since then, the 86 square km wetland has become home to rare varieties of birds.